Pros Records on nearly all formats (no DVD+RW), Chasing playback (on DVD-RAM), Easy to set up, Easy to use, VCR-Plus, variable recording time, GREAT image quality.
Cons No DVD+RW recording, No chasing playback on RW disks.
Summary I am very satisfied with this unit. At first I tried to go cheap with a "Cyberhome" but ended up returning it when a Cyberhome tech told me that it was not licensed to pass a DTS signal to my amp!
*** IMPORTANT ***
The CNET video says that this unit does not create chapters. IT DOES. It automatically creates 5-minute chapters WHEN YOU FINALIZE THE DISK (all formats). When you record with DVD-RAM, you can put chapters wherever you like!
It does everthing I wanted it to do, especially with its many inputs. The "Variable Bitrate Recoding" feature allows you to define how much video you can fit on a disk, for example, you can record a 135 minute movie without having to jump to 4-hour mode. It just fits it on the disk (higher quality, no waste) and it works great.
The only thing that I would add is component video inputs, but it DOES have TWO S-Video inputs!
Pros Front & rear inputs for video, S-video, audio. Quiet operation.
Cons Confusing manual, lock-ups, poor display/user interface.
Summary This unit is not for the technically faint of heart. It has a buggy interface, marginal operators manual, and many annoyances:
1. The RF out (which appears to be an added convenience) is only a BYPASS. When the DVD is on, this is a DEAD signal. The manual doesn't really explain this.
2. The front display is primitive--only displays time remaining for recording or time elapsed during play.
3. On-screen display primitive:
*No "time remaining" for tracks.
*12 characters of MP3 title
*Generally, navigation is poorly laid out--looks like prototype software.
4. After finalizing a DVD-R, I didn't press return (no prompt, etc., but it is in the manual). The unit locked up so badly I had to unplug it. But the disk was finalized!
5. The manual says automatic chapters will be placed every 5 minutes when DVD-R/W is finalized. The manual states:
"There is a pause of several seconds between titles & chapters during play."
This is a problem--I was testing but didn't get to find out. See next item.
6. Unit failed to finalize DVD-R/W. Unit locked up. The disk will play, but won't finalize. No error codes or helpful info from the unit.
This is the last straw--it's going back.
Pros Does DVD RAM
Cons It's footprint is compact
Summary I have 5 DVD recorders. I had 3 ES-10's but one of them went south so Panasonic did a warranty replacement with an ES-20. What a sad replacement. These units are hooked to a UHF antenna and the ES-10s, which Panasonic stopped making because it didn't a DV port, work flawlessly. The ES-20 is another story. I've had the unit since 12/23/05 and it has locked up 5 times. This means the disc will not eject and none of the keys or the remote will do anything. If you select EP, 8 hr record time the unit will without warning go to SP 2 hr record time. It’s very unpredictable!
The front panel display on the DMR-ES20 does not display the same information as the DMR-ES10. The LED readout is 80's technology. It’s very cryptic. Like there are not enough segments to display words. For instance OPEN is displayed "OPEn." It's just cheap!
My advice is to wait till Panasonic works out the bugs on this unit.
"Erases Programs"on by sonewa
Pros Easy to use remote
Cons Erases Programs. Wasted 2 out of 3 disks
Summary Have had this unit for 2 days. Out of the 3 disks I've recorded, only one saved. Both had about 6 programs on each and I had even changed the titles and thumbnails on them. When I recorded the last show and was ready to finalize, all the programs were gone! When I looked at Disk Management it would say 0 programs and 17 minutes left to record.
Lest you think I did something wrong. I have a Panasonic DMR-ES10 that I love, which I have had NO problem with. The functions and uses are almost identical so I don't think it's user error. I bought the ES20 because the ES10 is no longer in stores.
When the first wipe out occured it was a DVD+R disk. I then put in a DVD-R and it did not erase. I then tried a different brand of DVD+R disk (all of them name brands) and it erased the programs again. One of the reasons for buying this unit was the ability to record to -R or +R. Most of my family have +R players so I need to be able to record on this disc format.
I will return this unit and may try a different unit but I am a little gun shy. What I probably should do is just buy the ES10 online as I did before. I am VERY disappointed with the waste of my time.
Pros Good price
Cons Not cross compatable with other devices
Summary Finalized disks would not play on my PC or friends dvd player. The Unit would not read the firmware upgrade disk that sould have corrected the compatabilty issue. After 2 months in the Panasonic approved service shop, replacing the Ram unit and Reader, they were unable to fix it and sent it back to Pansonic. After getting it back nothing has changed, windows xp sp2 still cannot recognize the disk format and disks do not play on other recorders. Costomer service wants to send the unit to illanois for more work, I just want to be done with this. I have spent 4 months on the phone and running the unit around and it still does not produce disks that are readable on other devices. I am very dissappointed with this product and the run arround that I have been going through all for naught.